“Misplaced spending priorities”

August 9, 2008

Now the Philly Inky has joined the pile of newspapers recently editorializing against Slick McCormick, Mulcahy III, Greedy Greg Schiano, et. al. Rutgers, states the Inky, has “misplaced spending priorities.”

Says the Inky: “Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick gets high marks for returning a $100,000 bonus to help students pay their growing tuition.

The goodwill gesture may be lost on financially strapped students facing an 8.5 percent tuition hike at one of the most expensive public universities in the country.”

The Inky also points out:

* “Rutgers’ finances also have come under intense scrutiny after recent published reports detailing questionable deals designed to grow the football program.”

* “A plan to raise $30 million in private funds to help pay for the 14,000-seat stadium expansion has fallen way short. Now, the state comptroller plans to investigate the school’s spending practices.”

Meantime, over at the Star Ledger, Rutgers sports scribe Tom Luicci has the news that Rutgers has inked an expensive deal to play Kent State at home in 2012. Kent State demanded — and will get — a jaw-dropping $750,000 guaranteed payment to travel to Piscataway. Where will that money come from. Per Luicci: “the school expects to have some of the cost defrayed by the expanded capacity of Rutgers Stadium, which will be at 56,000 then.”

Excuse us, Luicci. We know you could not spell “verify” if spotted the consonants, but last we looked, Rutgers was very, very far short of the funding needed to proceed with the Phase 2 expansion which is where those seats get added. We know what Mulcahy III wants you to write but reporting, by definition, requires you to do a bit of verification. The $30 million private fundraising is a bust, as reported by your own newspaper. The construction estimates for the stadium have exploded well beyond the original $102 million. And now 10 newspapers have editorialized against RU, exactly none have come out in support of the school’s extravagant football fantasies. From our seats, we fully expect the BoG to announce within weeks that Phase 2 will be “delayed” — which is Raritan speak for terminated.

Mulcahy III’s spinmeisters must be singing that expansion tune exceptionally loudly. The Ohio press also is picking up on it. Reports Recordpub.com: “Rutgers will pay KSU $750,000 in 2012 to play a football game at its soon-to-be renovated stadium. That’s an unusually big payday to play at Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights apparently can afford to pay larger guarantees thanks to a $102-million renovation that will increase the capacity of their Piscataway, N.J., stadium from 41,500 to 56,000.” Talk about flimflam accounting. Mulcahy III apparently is “balancing” his budget with seats that have not been built and which are unlikely to be built. Just amazing, but would you expect otherwise from a lifelong Trenton hack? This is a state that is strangling in its own debt and Mulcahy III is a poster child for why we are in the sorry fiscal shape we are.

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Lonely Being Luicci

May 3, 2008

Two days later and the Ledger’s Tom Luicci still is the only journalist reporting that Rutgers season ticketholders renewed at a staggering 99% rate, despite the recession, despite $4/gallon gasoline.

The only source cited in Luicci’s article was a self-interested Rutgers official (earning around $156,000, incidentally), whose pay comes because he is a flack for Mulcahy’s Folly. No external validation was offered. No corroboration. No proof of any kind. Just a flack’s word.

Do the Google News search yourself.

Note to the Scarlet Nation folks: the Feldman piece (ESPN) that turns up in the Google News search carefully attributes the 99% figure to Luicci. Journalists do that when they are hesitant about the facts. You folks wouldn’t know that because, well, you don’t know much that isn’t on your own myopic little message boards. The post that gleefully cites Feldman as disproving our point is in this thread. Sigh. We know there is no profit in arguing with message board posters but, sometimes, the impulse to educate carries us forward anyway.

But, we suppose, this post regarding Feldman stands as a prime exemplar of the Aronson thesis — where dissonance reduction is a life purpose for some. Good going! Do you think this was a witty for-instance of irony? A conscious attempt to win the Rutgers 1000 t-shirt?

OK, neither do we.

As for the bigger issue — the alleged 99% season ticket renewal rate — what there isn’t is new reporting confirming the 99% figure. The Home News, APP, Bergen Record, etc. are sitting on their hands. If the 99% figure is true, it’s an important story.

If.

What do other journalists smell that Tom didn’t?